On 11 Mar 2011, an M9.0 earthquake struck Japan offshore, c 70km east of Tohoku at c 15km depth. The shaking lasted over 5 minutes and after c 55 minutes the first Tsunami rolled ashore.
The earthquake is claimed to have moved the whole of Honshu island c 2.5m to the east and lowered its northern coastline by an average 0.6m. This was a contributing factor to the overtopping of the protective bunds surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which subsequently suffered a Level 7 Nuclear Emergency.
Japanese and US forces were mobilised in support and the US committed the USS Ronald Reagan to act as an offshore Command Center, refueling point and distribution centre for humanitarian aid supplies. Approx 25 ships. 24000 personnel and 190 aircraft were committed by US Forces.
A team of c 150 urban search and rescuers with their dogs from California joined with c 60 rescuers from the UK and conducted operations in Kamaishi and Ofunato looking for survivors until 18 Mar.